All aboard for the FA Cup Final ticket row

Talking point
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Soon another FA Cup final tradition will be upon us, the row about tickets. In particular Chelsea and Portsmouth fans will complain they have not been allocated enough.

Each club will receive an initial allocation of 25,000, on a par with the Champions League final, but still barely half of Wembley's capacity. As Chelsea average around 40,000 it is safe to assume many regular fans will miss out. Outrageous? Only up to a point.

Of the remaining tickets Wembley's debenture and box holders (whose payments help service the debt) take a chunk, the media and competing clubs have a few hundred, some are left empty for segregation. There are also at least 23,000 tickets distributed to what the FA describes as the "football family". This includes volunteers and staff affiliated to County FAs, charities, the Football Foundation, 216 professional and semi-professional clubs, and representatives of authorities from Fifa to the PFA.

The usual view is that these people are "blazers" and their tickets should go to supporters of the finalists. The reality, now the FA crack down on touting, is that many of these tickets go to people who give up time and money to promote the game, whether coaching youngsters or helping small clubs survive.

Furthermore, the FA Cup final is a national event. All supporters should have the chance to attend one. But such is the dominance of elite clubs most would never have the chance if tickets were limited to the finalists. In the last 20 seasons only 17 clubs have reached the final. Fans of lower league clubs, in particular, would be permanently excluded. By contrast Chelsea have been to five finals in 14 years. In theory 125,000 Chelsea fans could have seen their team in an FA Cup final in this period (and 50,000 from Portsmouth in three years). Is it really so unfair that tickets are kept back for fans of clubs who never have that joy?